So. Here we are again. Very much the same again and yet so different.
Three and a half years ago on an early, dark November morning I took my mum to hospital to have the first operation she'd ever had. Two months before she had first rung me to say she was suffering from jaundice. I remember that phone call so well - and I also remember so well thinking 'jaundice? right. A few weeks of rest and you'll be as right as rain'. Little did I realise that we would be going through a series of tests in the next few weeks with increasingly bad news and that the jaundice was a symptom of a tumor in her pancreas. By the time she went into hospital, she was as yellow as mustard, had practically stopped eating and didn't do much more than sleep. I'll never forget either that the first time I saw her when she'd developed the jaundice, I thought 'you are dying'. It was a very frightening feeling.
But, she was in good hands, the surgeons did a fantastic job and three and a half years down the line, you would never know that she once was so ill that the doctors were worried they wouldn't even be able to operate.
Little did I realise too that one day, we would be in a very similar situation again. Tomorrow I am picking her up very early in the morning and we're off to that same hospital - that hospital which is so big that it felt like a factory when we first went there, but which became such a familiar and later safe place to be. At lunchtime we're setting off to another hospital where once again they will take her away to try and make her better. I know she is in good hands but I know that will be the worst part of the day, letting her go and then waiting, waiting to hear that she is out of theatre and I can go and see her again.
It is tough. On Saturday I had to drop the children off with J. and say goodbye to them and not know when I'll see them next. I drove off with tears running down my cheeks. Yesterday I got to Holland and as usual I was so happy to see Hoek van Holland - as always, it is 'coming home'. But I so wish I was here for different reasons. In the meantime I'm carrying on working as much as possible. It means I keep a sense of normality, talking to the people at the office, hearing what they've been up to, but from time to time it's hard to concentrate too.
All these emotions are so familiar from last time, and yet, it is different too. This time around she is not ill, she looks well and is living life as normal. This time, the biggest difference is that it feels unfair that we have to go through it all again. But again this time, all I want is mum to be better again. And that feeling will never change.